Muhammed Khubaib, 22, was part of a group that confronted the 14-year-old outside a takeaway restaurant in Bradford in May. The men covered the boy’s mouth and assaulted him before forcing him into the back of a Toyota Auris owned by Khubaib.
The men targeted the boy because of social media posts they believed suggested he made "a reasonable amount of money" from trading bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.
The gang forced the boy to call his mother and tell her to pay them "£10,000 or her son wouldn’t be going home," Yorkshire Live reported. That sum would be about $13,700 at around a time when the currency was at its all-time high of $64,888.99 per coin.
The mother did not have the necessary funds, so she handed over £900 to the men before they departed. She later reported the incident to the police, leading to Khubaib’s arrest.
Khubaib pled guilty to charges of kidnap and blackmail, for which the court sentenced him on Oct. 15 to four years in prison. The other three men involved in the kidnapping have been neither identified nor prosecuted, The Guardian reported.
Prosecutor Laura McBride described how the incident had "profound consequences" for the minor and his family, which had moved by the time the case reached court.
"The victim, a young teenager, was vulnerable to criminal exploitation and Khubaib tried to exploit him for money," West Yorkshire Police DC Paul Maxwell said after the sentencing. "This was an incredibly distressing incident for both the victim and the victim’s mother, but thankfully both were not injured during the incident and have been given help and support by the police and partner agencies."
This week, bitcoin inched closer to its all-time high as trading opened with the cryptocurrency valued at around $61,000 per coin.